The issues leading to the strike by Chicago Teachers last week have prompted a great deal of discussion in education circles about President Obama’s education policies. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a product of the Obama administration, and his push for increased use of test scores in the process of teacher evaluations can be connected back to some of the President’s policy decisions. Additionally, the largest teachers union in America, the National Education Association (NEA), has been repeatedly critical of the President’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, for his support of additional standardized testing of students among other decisions that are consider unfriendly to public educators. In fact, members of the NEA have repeatedly called for the dismissal of Duncan as a condition of their endorsement of President Obama.
So does this list of grievances result in the endorsement of Mitt Romney by public educators?
Not even close.
It is absolutely true that educators, including me, have been extremely vocal about some of the President’s choices surrounding education. But the reason that we feel so comfortable speaking our minds is because we are so confident that the President is willing to listen and consider opposing viewpoints. We are comfortable being openly critical of President Obama precisely because he is the individual we want in office for the next four years. As we are always teachers first, we have that constant need to educate the President about our concerns as we seek to help him improve his knowledge of public education as we experience it.
And it’s not just our feelings about the President that garner our support. Vice President Joe Biden often speaks of his strong support for educators, most notably his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, herself a teacher. Both spoke this past summer at NEA’s Annual Meeting to thousands of appreciative educators. Together, President Obama and Vice President Biden form a pair who are strong advocates for teachers, even if the teachers don’t always agree with the specific policy choices coming out of Washington.
But Mitt Romney? Puh-lease. Romney’s education plans center around allowing (some) students to opt out of struggling schools, instead of providing support to the school for those students who remain in the neighborhood. Much like his plan for the auto companies, Romney would essentially let the schools go bankrupt as they spiral downward with decreasing funding or diminishing support.
Mitt Romney’s education plan, when coupled with his vocal opposition to public educators, makes this presidential election an easy choice for teachers:
Vote for Barack Obama.
After we re-elect the candidate who actually cares about trying to improve public education in America by implementing programs that seek to fund that change, teachers then need to work to change the President’s policies that we disagree with.
I simply don’t agree with each and every one of President Obama’s policies on education. In fact, there are a few that I would throw out completely and would relish the opportunity to speak to him face-to-face to help him see the error in his ways.
And the truth is, with President Obama I could truthfully see a teacher having that chance. But we must re-elect him first.
Teachers, vote for President Barack Obama so that we can work to save public education.